By Adam Gretton, Health correspondent
Monday, January 28, 2013
A teenager is set to deliver a personal thank you to the doctors that saved his elder brother’s life by cycling 128 miles to a children’s hospital in London.
Sixteen-year-old Lewis Swatman has begun preparing for the gruelling day-long charity cycle from Norwich to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to express his family’s gratitude for the care his brother received over the course of his childhood.
When Wayne Swatman was born at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, doctors told his parents Jane and Del that their first-born only had two weeks to live because of a serious heart condition.
However, Wayne, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, battled on despite the prognosis and a set back when he suffered meningitis at the age of six months, which resulted in him becoming profoundly deaf.
When he was five-years-old surgeons carried out a major procedure at Great Ormond Street Hospital to repair the holes in his heart and leaking valves as a result of the condition he was born with, called tetralogy of fallot. He was in intensive care for six weeks at the London hospital.
Mrs Swatman, 47, said the experience had been a “nightmare”. However, the care of the staff at the children’s hospital saved Wayne’s life, who is now 25 and leads and full and happy life. She added that she was “proud” that Lewis had decided to raise money for the charity.
The Ormiston Victory Academy student, who said he had been planning to do something for the hospital for most of his childhood, will leave the Forum in Norwich at about 7am on April 6 and hopes to complete the ride by mid afternoon.
Lewis has a target of raising £500 for GOSH and has so far received sponsorship of more than £350 from friends at school and teachers.
The teenager, of Craske Mews, Bowthorpe, will be taking part in the Hethersett 30/60 on March 24 and will be accompanied on the cycle ride to London with experienced cyclist Martin Anderton.
Lewis, who started training last month, said: “I am a bit nervous and excited. I have been thinking about doing it for most of my life.”
“Thanks to their life saving surgery Wayne has now gone on to lead a very outgoing and enjoyable life. Everyone who knows my brother will know he is always full of life and happy and this wouldn’t of been possible if it weren’t for this amazing hospital,” he said.
Wayne, who is a Tottenham Hotspur fan, has an annual heart check-up at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital every year and attends Easton College for a day a week and a cooking course at Heath Farm in Little Plumstead.
Lewis can be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/lewis-swatman